Category Archives: absurdity

Please don’t read this post (PDRTP)

I’m sharing this Texas Tribune post in hopes my various journalism-professor friends will also share it, so baby journalists across the land encounter the real-life example of how acronyms ruin stories, and why journalists need to step out of their enclosed little worlds and remember that no one is assigned to read what they write. Here’s the headline of the story:

House Committee Pushes CPRIT Reforms.


Of course, we all know what CPRIT means, right? But that’s not the extent of the sin. The  story below the headline uses the CPRIT acronym 11 times in 454 words. Not to mention two uses of CTNeT. The story looks like ants are crawling through it. Capitalized, poisonous, illiterate, unidentified ants that don’t want you to read … one …  word … further.

ADDENDUM: The Texas Tribune has updated this story with information on testimony before a legislative committee, adding four CPRITs and three CTNeTs and possibly setting a new world record for acronym misuse by a digital nonprofit news enterprise.


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Filed under absurdity, journalism, Uncategorized

On tomorrow’s menu: No-fat fat

Hey, shoppers! It’s an almost-half-off sale on zero-calorie noodles. You can pay a mere $39 (instead of the original $72) for the privilege of eating the near-equivalent of air for a long, long time. (And I do mean long: This would get you 24 eight-ounce packets.) I’d choke down a bowl of eels first, so a bonus prize of a six pack of Diet Coke goes to the first person who actually eats these ephemeral stringseel-513952044_67fa327a7f and tells us what they taste like.

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Filed under absurdity, health food

Koch, the unreal thing

I found this KochFacts page accidentally, as I was trying to click something else on Poynter’s MediaWire (which gives me one more reason not to go there very often). The page is an amazing feat of unintended self-revelation. According to KochFacts, the New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer, Bloomberg Markets magazine, Bill McKibben, the Wall Street Journal‘s Jacqueline Palank, and Forbes magazine have all been telling dastardly lies about Koch Industries Inc. But the list doesn’t stop there; the list of haters on and liars about Koch seems to go on and on, and the language used in attacking all those liars and haters is a study in apparently unacknowledged paranoia. The page seems to  live in an alternative universe, one that reminds me of the Wonderland of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where once upon a time this was said:

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

 Or has the site just gone Through the Looking Glass, where  once upon another time this was said:

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Either way, KochFacts is fabulously entertaining and, it seems to me, a glimpse directly into the shriveled, baleful soul of the people who sponsored its creation. For those of you who can stand the sight, it’s a soul worth apprehending.

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Filed under absurdity, media

World Peace to all

Friends who are not NBA fans or Los Angeles residents may not know that the L.A. Lakers’ Ron Artest  — who in a 2004 gig with the Indiana Pacers charged into the stands because a cup of beer had been thrown at him, sparking a gigantic player-fan fight that led to $11 million in fines against 9 players — has a new name. It is Metta World Peace. His jersey even says “World Peace” on the back.

But Metta’s the same old Artest when it comes to generating non sequiturs, as this Los Angeles Times story shows. I kind of like Artest/Peace, but I really like it when he talks to reporters. I’ll give you two examples of his conversational gifts:

“[T]here’s his response to a reporter who inquired about some teammates calling him Ron and others Metta: `Well, I’m just happy that Jesus Christ, um, did not let me lose my teeth when I was 20 years old.’ “

“[H]is view on all the trade rumors involving the Lakers: `I’ve been more focused on the Herman Cain presidential campaign this year,’ he said. `I want some Godfather’s Pizza.’ “

But you have to read the LAT piece to get the full effect of World Peace in the holiday season. Ho ho ho.

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Filed under absurdity, sports

Bachmann a go-go.

When a Tea Partying presidential candidate says she has the spirit of serial boy killer/house insulator John Wayne Gacy, you just have to go, go, go, go with it.

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Filed under 2012 election, absurdity

Local journalism doesn’t have to be Onion-esque

Once upon a time long ago, Matt Smith wrote for me when we both were at SF Weekly. He’s always been good, but I think the passage of time and changes in how journalism is delivered have made him a near-perfect local writer for our times. Matt’s a columnist for the print Weekly and a blogger and occasional full-length feature writer betweentimes; this mixing of daily and weekly and multi-weekly deadlines and newspaper and magazine sensibilities seems a fine match for this phase of the digital age. But it’s not just that Matt can write across platforms; he can think across platforms to create the right piece at the right length with the right tone for the right publication at the right time. This piece, on H1-B visas in the Bay Area, bears the one true hallmark of the Matt Smith approach: a nuanced  take that you truly did not see coming and that, depending on who you are, could be so absolutely outraging as to set you muttering for days, maybe weeks. Here’s an outtake:

Bay Area CEOs say imported experts are key to Silicon Valley success. In the program, foreign workers are employed by the sponsoring company for up to six years. During that time, the H1-B holders may start the long process of applying for permanent-resident green cards.

Critics say the program is a mild form of indentured servitude. They insist that what employers really seek are compliant workers who won’t complain about unfair treatment for fear of being deported.

The fact is both groups are right: The H1-B program depresses wages for certain U.S. workers. It’s rife with fraud and abuse. H1-B workers are vulnerable to discrimination, isolation, and exploitation. But the program is a necessary evil because skilled and enterprising new immigrants are exactly what the Bay Area economy needs.


Filed under media, The Onion

Only in Houston: The bad girls lawsuit

When a Houston attorney sues three middle-school students for the Internet posting of a video that cast aspersions on his middle-school age daughter, I have to go with it. And hope he doesn’t sue me, too.

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Filed under absurdity, lawyers

Now, direct from Washington, D.C.

When you take a picture of the founding Church of Scientology in our nation’s capital city, and don’t know what the hell else to do, you go with it. And hope your thetans don’t mind.

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Filed under absurdity, religion

We hate the Huffington Post so much we put it in our name

Now here’s an interesting but strange phenomenon: The Huffington Post Union of Bloggers, a site composed of multiple blogs, arranged by subject area in a way that’s reminiscent of some other amalgamation of blogs headed up by a silver-tongued Greek woman. No, this is not the Huffington Post, but a new entity formed in the wake of a class action lawsuit filed against The Huffington, Inc., Huffington Post owner Arianna Huffington, and her co-owner,, Inc., “alleging that thousands of writers and other content providers have been wrongly denied any compensation for the substantial value they created for the Huffington Post.” The new HPUB is a nonprofit that’s “affiliated” in some unstated way with Local 1981 of the National Writers Union; its directors and members are “[c]urrent and former bloggers and employees of the Huffington Post and their supporters. Their names are confidential.” There are seeming positives here, according to the site’s answers to frequently asked questions: HPUB is dedicated to “quality original and reprinted material that reflects our Progressive values and vision of change.” It doesn’t look like any of the bloggers on the site are getting paid right now, but “[t]he Union is working on a business model to pay contributors,” which is a good thing, as long as the Union works fast. Of course, I’m also compelled to state the obvious here: Most people work out the business plan before they start the business. And the secrecy thing is really hokey and smells of the kind of lefty conspiratorialism that tends to be death to any attempt to create a practical business. (I mean: If this nonprofit is looking for the tax exemption that will allow people to contribute tax free, it will have to say who its directors are, and fairly soon. Why not now?)  And using the Huffington Post in the new publication’s name is not exactly helping you build a brand, if you actually expect this thing to fly. You may think you’re sticking it to the woman. Actually, you’re giving her free advertising.

Still, I’m not here just to carp, but also to serve. If anyone has a great blog and likes what HPUB’s up to, it is now accepting new submissions, according to a LinkedIn discussion posting.

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Filed under absurdity, media

Vampire-film villainess or future senator? You make the call.

Whenever you have a very scary 1970ish video of Dianne Feinstein inveighing against pornography, you go with it. Yes, you do. (h/t to the SFist’s brilliant Brock Keeling.)

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Filed under absurdity, politics, sex noises